Apr 22

We are all familiar with the tragic story of the Aboriginal Stolen Generations. Often I have heard people say how shocking it is that these events took place in such recent history, for many of us within our lifetime.

Well, I have uncovered something perhaps even more disturbing. The forced removal of children from their homes and families was occurring as late as the mid-1980s – but not here in Australia. This was taking place in the United States of America, the so-called “home of the free”.

Picture this scene:

Two black children play innocently in their neighbourhood playground. They appear happy and healthy. The children are among friends, people with whom they have spent their entire lives. Along comes a rich, white man. He has decided that these black children would be better off living with him than among their own people. He takes them away to his penthouse apartment where they live with him and his white daughter. The children are told that they must “integrate” into white society.

I was given access to a rarely seen videotape which brazenly documents the events described above. Not only did the perpetrators have the audacity to record their heinous crimes, they even added a catchy tune, presumably for their own amusement.

Here is the video:

Let’s examine a few of the lyrics:

Now the world don’t move to the beat of just one drum.
What might be right for you, may not be right for some.

The subtext is that the poor, African-American child does not know what is best for him. His life choices are made at the whim of the wealthy, Anglo-Saxon elite.

A man is born, he’s a man of means,
Then along come two, they got nothin’ but their genes*.

Nothing but their genes? The connotations of racial superiority here are truly chilling.

Further investigation uncovered more facts about the particular case shown in this video. The two boys, who we will call “A” and “W”, were children of a servant indentured to “Mr D”, a rich, white businessman living in Manhattan. The children were taken, upon their mother’s death, to live with her employer.

This is not an isolated case. I have evidence of another child, known only as “Webster”, who was similarly displaced.

* This may actually be “jeans”.

Apr 2

Another afternoon TV show I remember from my younger years is Follyfoot. Actually, I had forgotten the title until I just looked it up. To me it will always be the show with the song about the “lightning tree”. Why is it that often the title music from 1970s TV shows is better – or at least more memorable – than the show itself?

Anyway, Follyfoot Farm is some sort of horse retirement village set in the English countryside. The series chronicles the struggles of the scriptwriter to maintain sexual tension between Dora and Steve for 39 episodes. Check out the opening title sequence (it goes without saying that I had a thing for Dora):

I found a Follyfoot forum but they say it is closed to new members. Snobs!

Shows about horses must’ve been popular in the ’70s, because another one I remember is The Adventures of Black Beauty. I actually recollect very little about the show or its characters – I probably thought it was a bit gay when I was eleven. But once again the music has stuck in my mind all these years. Here is the opening title sequence:

With so many slow-motion shots of Black Beauty thundering along at full gallop, this is basically soft-core porn for horse enthusiasts. And how far does this poor horse have to run? Up and down valleys, through meadows and along streams, it must’ve run clear across Britain. I wouldn’t have been surprised to see the Great Pyramids in the background.

Mar 31

One of the most delicious things about being a young kid was coming home from school and plopping down in front of the TV for a couple of hours of pre-dinner entertainment. This was often accompanied by a glass of chocolate Quik or a mug of Coco Pops.

Sadly, many of my favourite afternoon TV shows are gone, never to return. One of the classics was Grizzly Adams, the story of a man “accused of a crime he didn’t commit”, who flees to the mountains where he lives with his common-law wife, a large grizzly bear. Adams’ idyllic existence is interrupted each week when he has to help yet another hapless visitor who has stumbled in from the real world with a problem that needs solving.

Here is the title sequence that would precede each episode. Ah, memories.

The TV series was based on a successful 1974 film, The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams, and ran for 39 episodes starting in 1977. I must’ve seen each one about eighteen times. The theme song, “Maybe” by Thom Pace, was apparently a huge hit in Europe.

Dan Haggerty, who played the eponymous hero, has certainly led a colourful life since the show ended. In 1984 he served 90 days in jail for selling cocaine. He is the only person to have his star removed from the Hollywood Walk of Fame (he was mistakenly given a star intended for actor Don Haggerty). He opened a restaurant and produced his own brand of barbecue sauce. And in his spare time he squeezed in some endorsements for a piece of medical equipment later found to be fraudulent.

For more information than you could possibly need or want, see the Grizzly Adams wiki.

Stay tuned for more in the Weekly Retro Classics: Afternoon TV series!

Mar 26

Welcome to the very first instalment of Weekly Retro Classics, a video segment for the discerning mid-to-late thirty-something. Each week I will select for you a video clip so uncompromising in its nostalgic qualities, so overwhelmingly reminiscent, that it will take you a week to fully recover.

But how was I to choose the first video in this series? Simply, I reverted back to my childhood. Through an intensive course of primal scream therapy I sought to strip away the intervening years, all the detritus of a lifetime, layer by layer, until nothing was left but the absolute core of my being. And what I saw there, what I discovered, was a skinny kid, sitting in a suburban loungeroom, in front of a TV set on a sunny Saturday morning. And on the TV set were two words … Sounds Unlimited.

Some of my earliest experiences of music videos were through watching Sounds Unlimited hosted by Donnie Sutherland. Those of you of a certain age would remember this landmark music programme. You will also remember the Sounds Unlimited theme music, which I have just discovered is “Love’s Theme” by Barry White. In fact, it is performed by Barry White & the Love Unlimited Orchestra. The coincidence of the Love Unlimited/Sounds Unlimited thing had my brain more twisted than a Möbius strip, so I decided that the first Weekly Retro Classic must be Barry White & the Love Unlimited Orchestra performing “Love’s Theme”.

So sit back and enjoy Maestro White, conducting his orchestra before a live audience in Mexico City in 1976. Right on!

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